‘Helping kids from my neighborhood to be contributing members of society, that’s my favorite part of what I do.’
“I grew up in this [school] district, and what drew me here to work was luck, faith and blessings. I was the districtwide homeless coordinator when I first started working as a social worker in Westbury in 2004. Around 2011, they deemed the job unnecessary and moved me to the Dryden Street School, even though I’m still dealing with homeless issues to this day. I started coaching basketball when I was in 10th-grade in Westbury, first for boys, then girls’ CYO and PAL teams. Some of those girls now have jobs and kids of their own. I also coach football, the Westbury Little Dragons. I know these families, and there’s so many that would still fit the criteria for homeless, so I help them out. If they need sneakers or glasses, I buy them. If you let the kid play, you really should provide them with everything they need to have a chance to be successful. A few parents won’t do the right thing. Most parents can’t.
Everything I put together is to combat some challenge in the school.
“I had an 11-year-old student who was acting out and cranky. He told me he shares the bed with his little brother, who kicks him in his back, and his feet hurt because his shoes are a size and a half too small. He broke his glasses, so he couldn’t see. So I got him a pair of sneakers and glasses. His mom got another bed that was donated to him. He’s like a whole new kid; he made the high honor roll. I try to find out what’s going on with them individually because my instructions as the homeless coordinator were to help the children to have as comparable an experience as the others. Everything I put together is to combat some challenge in the school. I have folks I can tap into, like my mom, who started teaching special education here in 1968 until 2003. She was doing this when she was a teacher and with some of the same families.
“Doing community service was just always something you were supposed to do. Everybody wants their neighborhood to have a good reputation. I get paid help to further perpetuate that, which allows me to help give kids what they need and make them feel good about themselves. Helping kids from my neighborhood to be contributing members of society, that’s my favorite part of what I do.”